HIM: Then, Now, and Beyond
As Health Information Management Professionals ponder the thought of where the field is going, it is evident that there are concerns of the department as we know it withering away entirely. With the use of electronic records, we are beginning to see job roles change. Some facilities have not made the switch from paper to electronic, but that is the direction healthcare is headed.
There were predictions made in 2012 regarding HIM in 2025. We are halfway to 2025, so it is crucial to determine whether these expected changes:
- Have been proven true
- Are in the works
- Or are not yet impacting the profession.
In 2012, it was said that there will be careers that have moved to other departments in a facility, but it is highly probable that HIM professionals will be the ones leading those departments. Aspects of the profession expected to change include privacy and security, decentralized departments, job roles outside of the HIM department, coding and transcription, and numerous others. With the implementation of electronic records, job roles such as HIM Clerks, who do various tasks such as file medical records, are no longer necessary for the function of a department. However, the EHR is bringing new careers to the table for Health Information Management professionals, so these changes are not entirely negative.
Facility privacy and security has been altered drastically since 2012. Paper records are harder to keep secure than electronic due to the ineligibility of pass-codes, audit trails, sign out procedures, etc. Regulations are heavily monitored, ensuring that all records are kept safe from unauthorized users. Now that we rely heavily on electronic records, the risk of a hacker or a breach in the electronic system is much higher than before. Considering the advancements, we now have stronger encryption and software implemented to protect this information, but there is still a system risk. By 2025, it is a possibility for the system security to advance where there are significantly less issues or negative impact. Alternatively, technology could be utilized to achieve unauthorized access to the health systems and steal protected health information easier than before. The prediction for privacy and security is having different roles for the Officers, however; the need for the specialists will still be there. As of now, we still have Privacy and Security Officers in facilities to determine compliance, and there is no sign of eliminating these positions in the future.
As of 2012, the HIM department was still, for the most part, intact. For the 2025 prediction, it is stated that there will be a trend of decentralized departments. Meaning that Coding and Transcription might be in a different area than Release of Information or other similar roles. By doing this, the HIM department will be broken apart. With newer technology though, it is simple to communicate without being face to face. The HIM department might evolve outside of the typical hospital setting. As of now, it is becoming more common to outsource services such as Coding, Auditing, Clinical Documentation Improvement, etc. It is proven true that HIM departments will, in fact, decentralize over time. By 2025, this will still be an ongoing trend.
Predictions of job roles moving beyond traditional HIM has been proven true over the past few years. The trend will continue through 2025, opening many doors for professionals. Job roles outside of the typical HIM department include, but are not limited to, a Consultant, Privacy or Security Officer, Remote Coder, Auditor, Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialist, or even an Insurance Claim Analyst. Technology is now able to perform tasks that previously required an employee. Now employees are needed in other areas. For students, it is important to learn the technical side of the field, because that is where our profession is heading. The teaching of this material must be treated in a different manner than it was 10 years ago, ensuring the new graduating students are prepared and informed on all relevant information.
The role of a Coder has been altered in favor of the 2012 prediction. We now have encoders that allow all coding to be completed on a computer. The 2025 prediction stated the role of coding would be taken to a specialist level because the computer will be able to generate the codes. It will in turn convert a Coder into an Auditor. This has not been proven true thus far, but it could possibly be in the works. Technology can be flawed, proving the importance of having a professional available to ensure proper codes are appended. As of now, we still have Coders that choose which code best describes the encounter. With this being a complex role, the computer needs a lot of advancements in order to perform the role of a Coder with no assistance.
2019 and Beyond
From 2012 to 2019, our healthcare system has made numerous changes and advancements. Some predictions are being worked toward, while others still seem far away. We are now able to do a lot of work from a computer, but the brain power from a human is still necessary to perform the day to day tasks. With the changes that have been made, the profession appears very different than it did several years ago, however; there is promise the opportunities in this field will continue to grow.